No. 142. Report of Captain Hiram L. French, Seventeenth Georgia Infantry, of the battle of Manassas.
CAMP NEAR WINCHESTER, VA., September 23, 1862.
SIR: I have the honor to making the following report of the part borne by the Seventeenth Regiment Georgia Volunteers in the action of the 30th ultimo at Manassas, to wit:
About 4 p.m. my regiment, under command of Major Pickett, was ordered from the field occupied the day previous by the entire brigade (the Second, Fifteenth, and Twentieth Georgia Regiments having on the eve of the 29th changed their position, leaving the Seventeenth to hold the ground) to join the brigade, then in line of battle for entering the fight. We did so. Were double-quicked nearly 2 miles to the scene of action, and entered a half mile on the right of the Chinn house in the wood. The regiment, in perfect order, formed in line of battle, the Fifteenth Georgia on our left, but not quite united. At once we were ordered by our commander to open fire, and for over two hours fought desperately, the enemy contesting obstinately every inch of ground and terribly cutting our line by shell, grape, and musketry. Not a man of my regiment faltered, but all acted in the most praiseworthy manner.
Our loss was, in proportion to the force engaged, extremely heavy. This could hardly have been otherwise, as the force we confronted were (as prisoners stated), first, Fitz John Porter's men, and next after these were beaten, Heintzelman's men-some of the best troops under the best officers in the whole Yankee army. We entered the field with certainly not ore than 200 men, our largest company (E) being absent on picket. Of our number we lost in killed and wounded 101.
Among the wounded was our commander, the gallant Major Pickett. Late in the action he was shot through the breast ad the wound was thought to be mortal, but he is, I hear, recovering from it. When he was struck down Captain A. C. Jones, senior captain, took the command, and as our ammunition was exhausted and the men nearly famished for water (not having a drop during the engagement), he ordered us to fall back to the edge of the wood and in front of the field in our rear. Scarcely had he given this command ere he was shot down by a ball passing through his temples. He was a brave officer and perfect gentleman.
Here I assumed the command and carried out the order given by Captain Jones. After halting, Major-General Jones came to us; complimented the regiment for the manner in which we had performed our duty; ordered us to get water and wait for a supply of ammunition. Very soon General Wright passed us, and soon thereafter General Drayton's brigade, the latter not getting into the fight.
We lost killed on the field 10, including 1 commissioned officer, Captain A. C. Jones, of Company G. Among the wounded are Major Pickett, Lieutenants [John C.] Talbert, [Robert P.] Tondee, and [M. H.] Marshall. A few of the wounded privates have since died, but most of them are recovering and will soon return to duty.
I cannot refrain from alluding to the gallant conduct of Lieutenant [John B.] Pickett, of Company I, who, at the suggestion of the commander, advanced in front of the line during the hottest of the engagement